Top positive review
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A comprehensive and entertaining companion to the films!
on May 31, 2002
What an incredible book! At 192 pages, this fantastic work by Gary Russell is chock-full of pictures, sketches, drawings and paintings from the wonderful film �The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Rings.� I have purchased all of the movie tie-in books available and this is by far my favorite. If you are into visuals (and I am), I couldn�t recommend this book enough. The back of the book says �contains 500 exclusive paintings and drawings from the spectacular film" and they weren't kidding!
The book is divided into 4 chapters - Locations, Costumes, Armory and Creatures. The LOCATIONS chapter is by far the largest - with extensive coverage of Bag End and Hobbiton, Bree, Weathertop, Ford of Bruinen, Rivendell, Moria, Isengard, Lothlorien, the River Anduin, Mordor and Amon Hen. One of my favorites is the sketch of the Bag End floor plan (with its pantries and cellars that we don�t get to see in the film). There are also sketches of the interior of the Green Dragon Inn (which we never saw on the film but which will hopefully make an appearance on the Special Extended Edition VHS/DVD to be released in November). The COSTUMES chapter shows the various design sketches by Ngila Dickson and Sylvana Sacco. All the main characters (from Frodo to Galadriel to Sauron - as well Gandalf�s pipes!) are featured. Costume designer Ngila Dickson also gives snippets on the influences of the costumes as well as the reasons why certain design themes were chosen (e.g. Boromir�s Gondorian costume is drawn from Byzantine influences and how Legolas� costume was the most difficult to design). The ARMORY section shows all the various swords, daggers, insignias, shields, etc. carried by the characters. Included are Frodo�s mithril shirt and the various armor as worn by Elendil, Elrond and GilGalad in the Prologue. The final chapter, and not the least interesting, is the CREATURES section with its sketches, maquettes, paintings and screenshots of Orcs, Urukhai, the Cave Troll, the Ringwraiths, the Watcher of the Water and the spectacular Balrog. One of the most interesting are the various versions of the Balrog (from more human-like to reptilian to the final version with wings).
What�s wonderful about this book is that it really gives you the essence of the monumental task of bringing the films to life. So many talented individuals collaborated to breath life into Professor Tolkien�s Middle Earth. Mind you, this book isn�t all visuals: each picture is accompanied by the description of the picture, the artist and background information on the picture (e.g. how it was used in the film, why it was rejected, Peter Jackson�s ideas). For instance, on his sketch of the Balrog, John Howe describes why he chose to give the Balrog wings (and Peter Jackson�s response to it). Alan Lee's beautiful paintings and drawings are also showcased in this book.
If you are a fan of the books and/or the film, are interested in art, or enjoy books with lots (and I mean loads) of wonderful visuals, then I couldn�t recommend this book highly enough. I�m already looking forward to The Art of The Two Towers and can�t wait to see what Gary Russell has in store for us in the next couple of years!